As spring approaches and the days gradually warm up, it’s time to get back to outdoor activities. Luckily, in a city like DC, there are countless activities to keep you busy on a hot day when it’s 60 degrees.
According to the National Park Service, this small island nestled in the center of the Potomac River was originally abandoned farmland, but transformed in the 1930s into a memorial for Theodore Roosevelt. Today, miles of walking trails stretch across the island, with multiple scenic lookout points through wooded forest areas to swampy marshes. These trails are great for those looking for a light outdoor stroll rather than a major hike. The island is easily accessible via the pedestrian walkway of the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, located between the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts and the Lincoln Memorial.
For those who don’t mind a long metro ride, Alexandria is the perfect excursion for a sunny spring day. The area is lined with boutiques, restaurants, art galleries and houses with charming colonial architecture. Those looking for a fresh and tasty treat can stop by The cremerie Where Ben & Jerry’s and savor their dessert at Old Town Alexandria Waterfront Park, which offers stunning views of the Potomac River.
A northwest DC landmark, chances are students have already visited this iconic cathedral or at least seen it looming through the skyline. On a sunny day, the rolling lawn in front of the cathedral is the perfect place for a picnic with friends or a relaxing study meeting. The massive Gothic-style building also makes the perfect backdrop for Instagram photos. Then, visitors can stroll through the winding Bishop’s Gardens adjacent to the cathedral and watch the flowers begin to bloom. The cathedral is about a 25-minute walk from UA, but it’s also easily accessible by bus from Tenleytown.
Run by the Smithsonian Institution, the National Zoo is completely free. Between its opening hours of 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., visitors can see lions, elephants, tigers, zebras, and the zoo’s famous giant panda exhibit featuring Xiao Qi Ji, a small male born in August 2020. The zoo is also a few blocks from the Woodley Park-Zoo/Adams Morgan subway station, which is only three stops from Tenleytown on the red line.
This 446-acre collection of plants and trees, with walking trails and plenty of exhibits, is a great destination for sunny days. Within the compound, visitors can stop by the National Bonsai and Penjing Museum, which houses a collection of Chinese and Japanese miniature trees, and the “social media-worthy” National Capitol columns. These columns, 22 in total, were originally built to support the dome of the United States Capitol in 1828 but were moved to the arboretum in the 1980s. Today the columns stand alone in the middle of a meadow, overlooking a reflecting pool. The Arboretum, located in northeast DC, is open every day of the year except Christmas from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is completely free.
Although this winter has seemingly lasted forever, spring is finally making its way to DC. Before you know it, the trees will be in full bloom and daily highs will consistently reach 70 degrees. Until then, it’s best to take advantage of unusually warm winter days to spend time outdoors in the neighborhood.